At this time of year, most of us are shopping for our loved ones, decorating our homes, baking cookies and treats, and planning holiday celebrations with our loved ones. There are many women, men and children who do not have that luxury. These people live in less than ideal circumstances, some trying to leave abusive households and better their lives, some not ready to.
People often stay in abusive situations because their abusers convince them they are the ones being abused. Abusers are very convincing and know exactly how to make their victims feel as if they deserve it and/or they are the ones who need to change.
Please read and share this article sent to me by someone who has lived with abuse and survived it. If you, or someone you know, is being abused – please seek help for them or for yourself. Consider donating to a local shelter this holiday season and help someone begin to reclaim their life.
To be considered in an abusive situation, I thought that meant you were either beaten on emotionally or physically and didn’t fight back. I always fought back. Well, most of the time. The majority of the time, I simply wanted to keep the peace. I compromised, kept quiet, didn’t respond – that is until I’d reach the breaking point.
Once I reached the breaking point, I didn’t always react the way I would have liked. When we feel attacked, we rarely do. We defend, we shout, we say things to hurt the other person, trying to make them hurt as much as we are hurting. At least I did. Then the finger would be pointed at me, and I felt like I was the one in the wrong.
It’s taken me a few years to even admit my situation was what most would consider abusive. I simply viewed it as a life I lived, and then when it became physically abusive, I wished I would have the guts to end it then. But as most people do living in those situations, you go numb, not believing this has happened to you. It wasn’t until something small happened a few months later that I let go, not wishing to live that life anymore.
I was scared. Having given up my job to become a full-time parent, I was afraid of where we’d live, where would I get money, how the kids and I would survive. The fact is we did. And here’s how:
1. Make a plan to get out. If you were like me, barely anyone knows of your situation. Tell someone. A trusted friend, family member, pastor, counsellor, a worker at a local shelter. Someone you trust which can be difficult since our trust levels are nil. Once you begin talking about it, you’ll see you’re not alone, and there is nothing wrong with you. There is help available and all you need to do is reach out.
2. Seek legal advice. If the physical abuse is severe, contact your local authorities and have a restraining/protection order put in place. This will assist you in leaving your home, or in having the abuser removed from the property. These orders do not guarantee your safety 100%, but it’s a start. If you are afraid of the order being violated, vacate yourself and any children from the property and seek shelter where you do feel safe. Don’t be afraid to contact the police and make a statement. A good lawyer will encourage you to do so. I didn’t require a restraining/protection order, but a lot of people do.
Getting a good lawyer who can inform you of your rights is essential. People often don’t due to the expense, but I found I had more rights than I thought I did when it came to assets and alimony.
Shop around for a lawyer the way you would for a car. Find out if a friend knows of a good lawyer. Local shelters can hook you up with legal aid if necessary. If you don’t feel your lawyer is working for you, don’t hire them. They work for you. It’s your hard-earned money that is paying their salary, so choose wisely, unless one is appointed for you by legal aid.
3. Find support groups or friends. Most of us feel alone when we are leaving an abusive situation. There is help out there. Seek it out. Talk to friends who support your decision, leave naysayers behind. You are already feeling vulnerable. Avoid people who put their insecurities onto you. You’re already dealing with enough.
4. Learn to love you. One thing I hear from previously abused people all the time is: I just want to find someone to love me. You already have someone: YOURSELF. I can say this because I spent a few years working on me. I wanted to make sure I was okay, and that my children would be all right. We all went for counselling. I continue to work on my issues. I love myself enough now that I don’t need a relationship. Would I like to be in one? Yes, some day I would, and when the time is right, someone will come along who will treat me the way I deserve because I know I’m worth it.
5. Watch for Predators. I quickly learned early on, how many predators are out there who will attempt to latch onto your vulnerability and try to make you think they can be your savior. Again, I stress – YOU are enough. Watch for the signs. *Kellie has an excellent article on her site.* http://kelliekamryn.com/2013/12/how-to-spot-a-predator/
6. Take one day at a time. Leaving an abusive situation is a process. Nothing happens over night even though we wish it would. Make an exit plan for yourself. Tell a trusted confidante. Find legal or support group help. Again, I stress, you are not as alone as you think or feel. Try not to think of a future beyond the day, so you can get through it. Focus on what you need to do in the immediate moment. It’s painful, but you will get through it, and your life will be better for it. There will be a transition period where you might have to move, assets sold or divided. Plan it out and take it one day at a time. With time, you will get it all sorted it out.
Unfortunately, my story is not unique. I’ve spoken to a lot of men and women who have lived a life similar to mine. You have the power to change your life. And if you don’t believe in yourself, I do.
HUGS and LOVE